A freelance writer living and loving in the northern beaches of Sydney...travelling, writing, outdoor activities, gardens, and Pilates are a few of my favourite things. Visit me www.potpourritravels.wordpress.com or www.facebook.com/potpourritravels/
Who's getting a bike for Christmas? It's school holidays and if relatives and friends are coming to stay over summer, bike riding is a great way to pass the day. On a recent visit to San Francisco the two of us old-fogies were brave enough to cycle over the Golden Gate bridge. We hadn't been a pushie for about 20 years, but we made it to the other side. The new generation of bicycles have fantastic gearing and comfy seats, plus the wind in our hair soon pushed us along. So I've been inspired; I'm buying myself a bike for Christmas. Cadel Evans is retired now but even his mother still rides a bike. This new exercise also raised a few questions; what style of bike? how much do I want to spend? what gear do I need? I've tried to answer a few of those queries, but I'm no expert, so don't be afraid to give the bike shop owner the third degree. Do a bit of homework and make sure you get the right bike for you. Many places now hire bikes so if you're a bit rusty and unsure, it's a good idea to hire one first. Here are a few tips to get you pedalling:-
1. You don't need lycra, but you do need comfy and close fitting shorts or trousers, and of course a helmet. Closed-in shoes are also better than thongs.
2. The 'cruiser' style bikes with higher handle-bars are more comfortable if you have neck, shoulder or wrist problems.
By Adelaidasofia - Own work, Public Domain, commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=14675798
3. Get your seat the right height. Stationery and standing over your seat, you should be able to just touch the ground with your toes. Whilst pedalling, your push leg should be almost straight at its maximum point i.e. if there's too much bend in your knee, the seat is too low.
4. Make sure you understand the gears - they're there to make it easier for you. If you live in a flat area, 3 gears may be enough, but 7 is better. 5.Make you sure you know how to brake efficiently - is it a back-pedal brake or handle-bar brake? 6. Use the bell - it's there for a reason and especially important on shared pathways, ring the bell loudly when approaching others from behind to let them know you're coming through. 7. The price range could be anything from $200 - $2000. Just buy what you can afford and what feels comfortable.
I've sussed out a few top spots for you. They had to be primarily off busy main roads and primarily flat. I'm sure there are many other trails around Sydney, but I want to have fun and get a little fitter in the process, not kill myself trying to get up a mountain:-
For inner-city pedallers -
THE BAY RUN, IRON COVE - I always love a loop ride - ending up where I begin. This trail traces the water's edge along Iron Cove Bay through Rodd Point, Drummoyne and Lilyfield. It's so picturesque it's easy to get distracted by the water views. At 7 km long, it's also pram and dog-friendly, making it a great family ride. For more info click here.
CENTENNIAL PARK - it's flat, it's car-free and it's full of trees. It's even got a dedicated 'Learners Cycleway'. Plus, you don't need to own a bike, you can hire one here.
Slightly west of the city -
PARRAMATTA HERITAGE TRAIL - Another nice loop trail starting near Parramatta Station. Soon you'll be feeling like you should be on a horse-and-buggy, passing Elizabeth Farm, built in 1793, and Old Government House, built in 1799. The scenery just gets better as you follow the Parramatta River. For a map of western Sydney trails click here.
OLYMPIC PARK - 35kms of cycle pathways has something for the high-adrenalin BMX's right through to the beginners. You'll pass art installations, mangrove swamps and wildlife reserves. See here for more information. There is also bike hire here.
PROSPECT RESERVOIR AND ORPHAN SCHOOL CREEK - fabulous for its entirely off-road 29km loop and views over the Greater Sydney area. Plus, you'll pass Greystanes aqueduct, built in 1888, consisting of 22 arches, it's massive and fascinating. Or stop at Calmsley Hill City Farm for a rest, picnic, and a chance to play with the cutest farm babies.
COOKS RIVER PATHWAY - this shared pathway extends from Homebush Bay Drive and follows the Cooks River right to its entrance into Botany Bay. It's mostly level and gives you access to railway stations, parks and shopping centres. See here.
Slightly north of the city is NARRABEEN LAGOON TRAIL - another lovely loop around 8.5km long and mostly level, this trail skirts the edges of Narrabeen Lagoon. Pass through natural eco-systems, watch for the black swans on the water and a flurry of other bird life in the surrounding bushland. There are picnic tables, amenities and shops nearby. Click here.
By Roman Bonnefoy - Own work, GFDL, commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=46208778
Take some water, a snack, and wear sunscreen. Hopefully all that fresh air will be a tonic to your body and soul.
look at you guys! never too old to start something fun, (not that you're old mind you) this article brought me back to my kabuki days (no, not sambuka, that's another story). it was as light as a feather and fast as..sigh. a great ride down memory lane.